The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

MOO TOO: Should Feminists Drink Dairy Milk?

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We’re upset by stories of violence against women – rape, forced pregnancy, infants being snatched away from their mothers. Yet these are all routine practices in the modern dairy farm.

JUSTINE BUTLER: Cows are sometimes portrayed as lacking intelligence but studies show that they play games, recognise different humans and have a variety of calls to communicate with one another. They have different personalities, hold grudges, bicker, bond and form long-term friendships. In the wild, mothers and daughters stay together for life. They can also feel anxious and depressed and their natural lives are very different to those they are forced to lead on a dairy farm…

Shortly after her first birthday, a modern dairy cow will be confined and forcibly impregnated using restraining apparatus called a ‘rape rack’. This is the beginning of her short and wretched life cycle – pregnancy, loss and lactation. Artificial insemination can be painful and traumatic and it’s not uncommon for inexperienced farmers to practise on live animals, inevitably leading to injuries.

Following a nine-month pregnancy, she gives birth and typically within days or even hours, her calf is snatched away. Separation is a painfully emotional experience for both calf and mother and she may bellow for days, calling for her lost calf. Again, once you witness this, it cannot be unseen. Female calves are replacements for the milking herd, males are seen as useless ‘by-products’ and usually sold for cheap meat (beef as well as veal) or killed on-farm…

Selective breeding and intensive farming methods have been used to increase average milk yields from 10 litres a day in the 1970s to 22 litres a day in 2019. The enormous strain this places on her body is unsustainable, leading to complete physical breakdown. At any one time, a third of dairy cows have mastitis, a painful udder infection. Lameness is common and permanent nerve damage through problematic calving can affect her ability to control her back legs. To prevent her from doing the splits, farmers may shackle her hind legs together…

Milk then is the product of the exploitation of the reproductive capacity of a female body… So why pick and choose which form of oppression to oppose? Increasingly, feminists are asking why it’s okay for humans to violently control an animal’s reproductive system while fundamentally opposing similar treatment of women? Assigning different moral values or rights to individuals on the basis of what species they belong to is called speciesism. American writer, activist and animal rights advocate, Carol J. Adams, says: “I am a vegan-feminist because I am one animal among many and I don’t wish to impose a hierarchy of consumption upon this relationship”…

The #MeToo movement highlighted the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment of women, especially in the workplace. When animal rights campaigners used the hashtag on behalf of voiceless animals it caused consternation among some that the suffering of animals was considered comparable to that of women… We’re upset by stories of violence against women – rape, forced pregnancy, infants being snatched away from their mothers. Yet these are all routine practices in the modern dairy farm. A torturous cycle of physical and emotional torment is enforced upon the dairy cow until she breaks. SOURCE…

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